Why I’ve Banned Myself From Clothes Shopping
I am a student, and therefore a girl of limited means, which causes a bit of a problem with my addiction. I’m not addicted to drugs or alcohol, but rather ridiculously, clothes shopping. A bit of a first world problem, I know, but I need you to bear with me. It got to the point where I’d shop whenever I was bored, and even missed a few lectures at university because I preferred to stay out shopping instead of getting the bus back out of the city centre.
Okay, the word “addiction” is probably a bit strong to use in this case. I love fashion, always have and always will. I spend quite a lot of time reading fashion blogs like those of Lua P, and websites such as Lookbook. I constantly look to strangers I pass on the street for inspiration and it’s not unknown for me to stop people to ask them where they got an item from. It’s led to me buying ridiculous things, just because I want to emulate a look I’ve seen around this season (hello purple hot pants). I am aware that I don’t need these things, and that I am not my possessions. I hate the idea of being so materialistic, and yet here I am.
There’s a certain thrill that comes from buying something new, an instant gratification that occurs, and a happiness rush thanks to those sneaky hormones dopamine and serotonin. I think I started buying new clothes so often because I started to believe that what a person wears is so indicative of who they are (most of the time). A quick glance at a person, I thought, and you could guess how outgoing they are, their happiness levels, and even their music tastes. My quest for the perfect outfit comes from a deeper need to appear completely perfect to the outside world. I think that with the perfect wardrobe I can conquer the world, but of course, I can’t. It’s me that will conquer the world, not my clothes. I know full well that I’m playing into the hands of capitalism here, I’m spending hundreds of pounds in the name of self-improvement, and with trends changing so often, it becomes a vicious circle I’ll be caught in for the rest of my life. Enough is enough. Time to focus on the self-improvement of my mind and body, not just my outward appearance.
So what am I doing about it? I’ve given up clothes shopping for a full year. I mean, I have a few exceptions, like if there’s any formal event such as my University Ball that I don’t have a suitable outfit for, if I need fancy dress outfits, or if I need new exercise clothes. Also, I’m allowed to buy from charity shops as long as I don’t spend more than £10 in a week, but that is it. No more walking around the shopping centre searching for an outfit every time I plan to go on a night out, no more spending my evenings on eBay bidding on the perfect skirt, and definitely no more Googling new stores that fit my fashion tastes.
I’m just under a month into my shopping ban, and it’s not been that difficult. I’m not back at university for another few days, and that will be the ultimate test, but for now I’m doing well. Now that I’m not allowed to buy anything I want, I have a mental block in place that has so far stopped me even looking too closely look at clothes, no matter how much I think I might love them. I haven’t even been in a clothes shop by myself for a while, and honestly, I don’t need to. Suddenly I understand where all my money was going. It wasn’t just the clothes. It was everything that went with it such as the train or bus travel, the Starbucks, the food that I’d pick up through the day, and random magazines that I’d somehow end up with.
I hope that at the end of this, I’ll gain some perspective. I’ll know what I really need, and what I just want. I also hope that a year out from the clothes scene might force me to think about my own style for once, and not just constantly try to copy looks that I’ve seen from bloggers. Sometimes I wear clothes just because I know I should like them, but the truth is sometimes I’m just not comfortable. No more boredom shopping means that I might actually spend the time before lectures in the library beforehand preparing for them, and actually turn up to them. I might actually be able to let go of some of the items in the wardrobe that I’ve had since I was 11 (some of which still fit, what up), because as my mother is so fond of saying, I have enough clothes to sink a battleship. Of course the ultimate benefit of this is that I might regain control over my finances and make things easier for myself in other areas of my life.
Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me next year so you’ll all know how it went. Feel free to join me in my shopping ban, and tell me if you’ve done the same before!
Written by Abigail ‘Chazza’ Chalrinho